Sharn Wordley and Famoso D Ive Z Retain Hagyard Challenge Series Lead with Grand Prix Win
More than 40 pairs took to the Rolex Stadium under the lights Friday evening, each hoping to produce the quickest clear round to claim the top prize in the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic Grand Prix, the fifth jewel in the series of seven. Sharn Wordley held the lead in the Hagyard Challenge Series standings with the most cumulative points entering the night’s competition, and fought to keep it that way, riding Famoso D Ive Z, owned by Sky Group, to a blazing time in the jump-off ahead of the eight other pairs that made it to the final portion of the grand prix.
The first ten entries of the night had a difficult time keeping the course intact, but Martien Van Der Hoeven and Zerro Leone, owned by Augusta Pines Farm, managed to finally keep all of the rails in their cups as the eleventh trip. Once Van Der Hoeven had qualified for the jump-off, it seemed to instigate a steady stream of competitors following suit and riding subsequent clear rounds to qualify, as well. After what looked to become a largely male-dominated jump-off field, junior rider Daisy Farish and her own Great White proved themselves as contenders, followed by Amanda Derbyshire and Gochman Sport Horse, LLC’s Sibell BH, to bring two women into the mix. Ultimately, nine speedy pairs representing three countries – USA, New Zealand and Ireland – successfully navigated designer Guilherme Jorge’s track to return for one last chance at the blue ribbon, with Wordley and David Beisel each aboard two of them.
As one of the first to return for the jump-off, Wordley and Caiman De Sequoias, owned by Sky Group, set the bar high with a quick clean round, tripping the timers at 41.864 seconds. Wordley’s early lead did not hold for long though, as David Beisel and Ammeretto, the quick-footed stallion owned by Equine Holdings, LLC, overtook them by less than half of a second with their time of 41.793 seconds. Beisel and Ammeretto are frequent sights in the winners circle, and their counterparts chased their time down without success until Wordley returned to the Rolex Stadium aboard Famoso D Ive Z, another horse who has become accustomed to winning recently. As the last to go, Wordley and “Famoso” had a plan to ride the jump-off track similar to Beisel and Ammeretto, and although the pair ended up adding a stride to the last fence, two especially tight rollback turns propelled them far ahead of the current leaders with their clean time of 40.320 seconds, nearly 1.50 seconds ahead of the runner-up duo.
Just behind Beisel and Ammeretto, Wordley’s jump-off time of 41.864 seconds aboard Caiman De Sequoias was strong enough to ward off the rest of the field, capturing third position, and they were trailed by Daniel Geitner and November Hill’s Vesta De Lavardin, who kept all the rails up and broke the beams at 42.175 seconds. The first to ride in the jump-off, Van Der Hoeven and Zerro Leone’s clean time of 42.177, only two-thousandths of a second behind Geitner, clinched the fifth position to round out the top contenders.
Wordley and Beisel will both return Thursday, August 24 for the next stop in the Hagyard Challenge Series, with the $65,000 finale taking place Friday, September 22. With his win today, Wordley solidified his current lead in the standings, but will have to fend off his competitors two more times to claim the $50,000 Leading Rider Award, presented during the Kentucky National Horse Show in September.
Jumper competition at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will continue through Sunday, with the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix sponsored by Audi of Lexington bringing elite showjumping competitors to the Rolex Stadium once again for their shot at the top prize.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Sharn Wordley – $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic Champion
On Famoso D Ive Z:
“He’s extremely fast. He’s a little bit spooky, but when he gets used to a ring then he can win a lot. He won last summer when we did quite a bit at Tryon. He’s a great horse. I’ve been riding him coming up on two years now. Most shows he goes to, he wins a class. He’s always like that. He always wins something somewhere along the line.”
On the course:
“I was really tight to the double. I was really tight to the second to last as well. It was on those two roll backs [I gained time on David] because we did the same steps everywhere else. Actually we had a better run to the last. I chickened out and added one to the last so it was on those two roll backs. We had the same strides everywhere else. It’s hard to watch because I was on one so I got to watch the first one go which was quick. Martien set a good time so I knew what I had to catch. Ammeretto had already gone and I knew what I was trying to chase. He’s fast. It’s hard to judge it on how quick he is. I didn’t think that I was going to be that fast.”
On the Hagyard Challenge Series standings:
“There’s two more. One next week on Thursday and then the final. I’m pretty sure Amanda Derbyshire is in second, I don’t know after today with David, but both of those people are extremely quick and it’s not done until you bank the check with these guys behind you.”
On his experience at Kentucky Horse Shows:
“[My farm, Ashland Stables] is 10 minutes from the Horse Park. I’ve been showing here for 9 to 10 years – maybe longer, maybe 12 to 13 years. Off and on. Before the stadium was built, when it was still normal sand.”